Talking math isn’t always easy as 1,2,3. Some math topics are abstract and questions about unknown variables are bound to pop up. How can you help your students have meaningful conversations about math concepts that are simple, complex, and anything in between?
Read on for math discourse tips and tools to get your students comfortable with talking about everything math!
Tips to Cultivate a Discourse-Rich Classroom
It’s important to create a learning environment where every student feels comfortable enough to engage in math discourse. Use the following tips to cultivate a respectful and encouraging discourse-rich community.
Establish expectations. Set ground rules for discussions so that students know how to respectfully communicate with each other. Before beginning math discourse, take the time to brainstorm with students and establish norms for interaction and behavior.
Provide prompts. Students might get stumped with what questions to ask during a discussion. Give students questions and prompts that they can reference back to.
Model math discourse. Before students get to talking, show them how they are expected to engage and how to use the prompts through modeling.
Mistakes are welcomed. Learning math isn’t just about getting the right answers. Remind students that errors can happen. And also let them know that they can reflect on their reasoning, identify misunderstandings, and correct themselves.
Give time to gather thoughts. Students need time to collect their thoughts and identify what they know before sharing with peers. Allow for students to work independently.
Collaboration is key. Once students have reflected on their own thinking, group students in pairs or small groups so they can share their reasoning and begin to question each other. Have students use collaborative strategies like think-pair-share.
Sign up for a 30-day free trial to Gizmos for additional resources to facilitate math discourse. With a Gizmos trial, you’ll gain access to a library of online math simulations as well as teacher guides that include questions to open more opportunities for mathematical discourse.